Early Simpson Crossing

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 19:36
ThreadID: 134253 Views:2759 Replies:15 FollowUps:15
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I am going to start my maiden Simpson Crossing on the 20th of March which is less than a week after the desert reopens. As it is my first crossing can some experienced travellers please give me a heads up on what to expect travelling so soon after the desert opens, as opposed to traveling mid year after it has been travelled many times. It is 2 people and a solo vehicle ( no trailer :) ). I have recovery gear and understand the tyre pressures rules and principles. Have done Googs track and Big Red previously with out any issues. Not too fussed as to which direction we take although I believe West to East is easier on the vehicle to cross the dunes. We were meant to cross last May but got there and it was closed due to flooding.

P.S. used the search function prior to posting, hence post.
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 19:43

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 19:43
Triggy, it will most likely be very hot still, possibly dangerously so.
Have an alternative plan.
Ensure cooling system is totally good, maybe get a pressure test, check all hoses well, take spare radiator and maybe some generic heater / smaller dia hose.

There will probably be heaps of flies !!
Take fly veils.

The tracks might be hard to follow with wind blown coverage, there might also be deep holes filled with very deep soft sand on tops of dunes for the same reason.
This might be more prevalent on some lines, but all have their dunes with holes on top.

If you don't have your own sat phone, hire one at either end (Mt Dare or Birdsville info centre) and drop off the other side, sensible insurance for your safety.

You could possibly not see another soul, enjoy the solitude.
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Follow Up By: Triggy - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:10

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:10
Thanks for your prompt reply Les.
1. Didn't consider the heat. A quick check of Elders Weather has confirmed history of hot conditions for March
2. Vehicle is a new PX2 Ranger, only 3 weeks old. Everything should be OK mechanically.
3. Don't like flies at the best of times let alone when you are on holidays!!
4. Hard to follow tracks and soft sand "pot holes" we're my biggest concerns initially.
5. Have my own Sat phone.

Thanks for your help. I'm glad I asked now.

Will probably go in May now. Can't get flooded out 2 years in a row surely....
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Follow Up By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:20

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:20
Hi,
As said earlier, by Stephen, when travelling early in the season beware of the shear drop offs on the dunes.
Walk some of the dunes that you can not see over as sometimes the way across is not just up and over.
William
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:11

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:11
Hi Triggy

First of all, you can not compare Googs Track or Big Red with a Simpson crossing.

At that time if the year, there will be sections of track that will be blown over and many of the dune crossings will have very sharp lips at the top, with a metre or more as a sheers drop from the summer winds, so extreme care must be taken as you cross every dune.

Temperatures will be still in the mid 40's so water will be a very important safety factor to consider. With the stand extremely soft, you would want to run about 12 psi cold and a long handled shovel and set of MaxTrax part of your recovery kit, as they both will get a very good work out.

The earliest that we have ever done it was early May and tracks were still blown over and big lips at the top of the dunes and day temperatures were around 42 and nights very mid of around the low 20's. We met 2 guys with trailers that tried doing the Rig Road thinking it would be easier. On one of their sand bogs, it took 2 days to both of their vehicles and trailers over one of the larger dunes before the K1 Line, and we're making a detour out via the Warburton Crossing just to get out of the desert and back onto firm ground.

I hope you are including a PLB & Sat Phone as part of your recovery and safety items. If you do not have a PLB and are not doing to buy one, which sell for around the $300 mark, you would be crazy to set foot into the desert, if not for your life, but your loved ones.

Yes and can be done, but your personal safety should be priority no 1 and you must be prepared for anything, include log delays working in the hot sun to free your vehicle from being bogged.


Think very carefully and all the very best.



Cheers




Stephen
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Follow Up By: Triggy - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:32

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:32
Thanks for your comments Stephen and William.
My comment re Big Red and Googs was to qualify I had some sand driving experience that went hassle free.
As per my initial reply to Les, I have already conceded the heat and un travelled dunes are far too much for me to risk on a maiden voyage, and enable me to enjoy the trip.
I already have a Sat phone and a PLB is the next item for my kit.

Thanks for your experiences
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:44

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 21:44
Hi Triggy

By doing the trip a little later, it will be a very enjoyable experience and that red sand will get in your blood, and you will be planning another vist.

Great that you are considering a PLB, as I feel it is the most important piece of safety equipment that an Outback traveller should carry.

When you do get out there, please let us all know how you went and perhaps even share a few photos.



Cheers




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Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 22:04

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 22:04
By doing the trip at a later date it would give you a chance to give the car its first service and oil change. Let the mechanic know your doing a desert trip and you want a thorough examination Take spare fuel filter as well and know how to change it. Check your vehicles jack is functional and spare is of suitable quality (2 spares?). Even the smallest problem on a new vehicle will have you snookered when your a long way from home.

Enjoy the flies...sorry trip..
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 03:14

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 03:14
Triggy.
PLB Google > Arnold's boat shop kti plb < think $249 still with free ship, exc unit.
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Reply By: Member - KeithB - Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 23:58

Sunday, Feb 05, 2017 at 23:58
I did the same trip in late March two years ago. Hot weather before we got there but not so hot for the Mt Dare to Birdsville crossing. We towed a camper trailer and, since there had been rain in January and not much prior traffic, the track was in excellent condition.
There were some drop offs at the top of the dunes, which often break to the right or left unexpectedly. We ran 13/60 cold, 13 in the trailer, took it slowly in firsdt and second high range and had no problems at all, despite carrying half a ton of recover gear. We met about 6 vehicles coming the other way.
Take a can of fly spray so that you can kill the 500 or so flies that will follow you when you step back into your vehicle. Plus spare fuel and water. We used 126 litres for the crossing in a 200 series diesel, but a detour due to rain could have added a lot to that.
Have a wonderful trip. With a bit of luck, the wild flowers will be out.
Keith
AnswerID: 608311

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 00:01

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 00:01
I'll be going across the Simpson in last week of May, if you wanted to accompany me?

Will be doing, at this stage, the French Line, as it's the shortest, and I haven't been along the full length of it. Need to be at Mt Dare by 30th May. Have a think about it, though might be a bit late for you?

Bob



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Follow Up By: Triggy - Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 22:29

Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 22:29
Hi Bob, my travelling mate and I are reassessing the trip and dates in the next couple of days, following the info I received here. Will let you know what we determine. Thanks for the offer, regardless.
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Reply By: Member - Odog - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 07:46

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 07:46
Best accessory we had, was a snorkel, had been watching the weather coming across for months, thought it won't keep raining around there.. but drove into Mt Dare through nearly bonnet deep water for 500 meters, 80 series got stuck in creek on bloods track, bonnet deep.. lots of mud between the dunes especially on the salt pans! Copped it with "your tires are to aggressive for sand" I was the only one who didn't get bogged.. had to snatch and winch other 2 out.. seemed we played "cat n mouse" with the rain for 6 weeks.. this was late August and September last year.. great trip, put it to the next level. Cheers Odog
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Follow Up By: Triggy - Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 08:35

Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 08:35
Thanks for the pics and spiel Odog. We got Birsdville end of May last year a week after they got the 51mm in a day and the desert was shut because of the standing water between the dunes. Apparnetly couldn't see the tracks and if you got off them you were into "quick sand". One thing I want to avoid if at all possible is mud, for a couple of very good reasons. Mt Dare entrance has always been a billard table when I've been there :).
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Reply By: Member - abqaiq - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 09:12

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 09:12
If you have an automatic transmission then a spare starter motor is a good idea. We were out with a guy who had a new (6 week old) Explorer with auto. The very experienced trip leader told him to get a spare starter. First morning out in the Rub Al Khali desert "no start!". Leader said to change starter while we all ate breakfast, no big deal. He hadn't followed the instructions - no spare starter. Had to tow him back 100 miles to a paved road and left him to get tow. Set the whole group back by two days.
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Reply By: braincell - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 11:02

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 11:02
Hi triggy,
Personally I wouldn't go anywhere near that area in March , just heat and flies .
i don't know people travel places when the weather is bordering on the worst time , not a great idea .

Cheers
AnswerID: 608326

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 11:58

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 11:58
Me either, especially if it is your first crossing.

Everyone has a different threshold of heat, but it will be unbearably hot at that time.

IMHO going at that time would only be suitable if you had a specific purpose, eg first to cross, want to test yourself in the heat etc. It would be better to postpone if you are doing it then because of time availability.

I couldn't think of anything worse than crossing at that time of year.



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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 12:51

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 12:51
Triggy

Have to agree with the other members .

Just to hot that time of the year .

I have completed 2 crossing both at the end of April and that was hot enough for me ( Low 30 degree's ).

That is unless you enjoy 40 degree days and have a well set up vehicle , if so go for it . Its a fantastic trip .

Cheers
AnswerID: 608332

Reply By: Winner W - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 14:00

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 14:00
Triggy there is lots of info here and advice from the wise ones. I agree the heat will make the crossing unpleasant and dangerous. Even in winter the flies are everywhere. At least then you dont burn on the hot sand if you have to dig your ute out in winter. And a nice fire in winter out there is great. We did a solo crossing of the French line in a Ranger too in 2013 and lots of advice was found here . For some more ideas on the newranger forum search "Simpson desert April 2014 " on Ranger specific info.
It is a great trip but go when its pleasant.
AnswerID: 608335

Reply By: Winner W - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 14:03

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 14:03
PS I posted my French line crossing as "Simpson July 2013 " too for more advice to fellow drivers.
AnswerID: 608336

Reply By: splits - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 14:40

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 14:40
There a couple of videos here that you may find useful. Both are led by Vic Widman.VIDEOS

The " 50 years on" one covers the first crossing of that year.
AnswerID: 608337

Reply By: Sigmund - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 16:16

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 16:16
Is my recollection correct that the doglegs on the ridge tops normally veer to the north?
AnswerID: 608342

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 19:05

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 19:05
Yep that sounds right to me.
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Follow Up By: Winner W - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 19:12

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 19:12
Yes if driving east to west
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 19:27

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 19:27
Ah, and west to east too ;-)
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Reply By: dad1340 - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 19:55

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 19:55
20th May ??? Forget it unless your a masochist !

Cheers

dad
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 14:08

Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 14:08
Hi Triggy

I live to a motto "those don't think it can be done shouldn't bother the person doing it..."

Having said that I always have a robust plan in mind and have done plenty of research before any trip, whether into the outback, or into the mountains climbing...

Reading a couple of your responses it would appear you haven't given great consideration to the trip, especially with regard to something basic like weather conditions.

Whilst the Simpson isn't necessarily difficult, it has plenty of risks associated with it - how you manage those risks is key to a successful trip. And that comes with planning.

As constructive criticism, it doesn't appear you have given a lot of thought to it. Especially given it is your first foray, single-handed, in a new vehicle at a time Australia is experiencing extreme weather conditions, March isn't that far away...

By all means, go for it, but only after you have given it some real thought and planning.

My two-bobs worth...

Enjoy,

Baz - The Landy
AnswerID: 608471

Follow Up By: Triggy - Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 22:53

Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 22:53
Gday Baz,
Thanks for your comments , and everyone else for that matter.
I have given this trip much consideration as I have been wanting to do it for the past few years.

In hindsight I should've started my OP, I "INTEND" to start my maiden Simpson crossing .......whats the pitfalls etc etc at this time of years etc,etc,

As I have said before , following the comments from others that have more experience than I with this part of our country at this time of year, I have already decided to rethink the date of my Simpson crossing trip as don't want to travel in 35 degree heat, I don't want to endure flies unnecessarily and I do want enjoy the warmth of a campfire at night. I repeat, I will not be travelling to the Simpson starting late March.

This is the beauty and relevance of forums, IMO, where one can ask and learn / be advised by experienced others on a particular situation / scenario

Thanks again for all the qualified and experienced comments. I am glad I asked the question before heading off.

I will advise what my revised crossing plans are to complete this thread.


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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 09:05

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 09:05
Hi Triggy

Understand...enjoy it when you eventually head over Big Red!

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Follow Up By: Triggy - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 09:32

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 09:32
Baz,
A couple of years ago I did my first trip to Birdsville and went out to Big Red and camped half a dozen sandhills to the west, just to get a taste of what the Simpson is like and also to see what the iconic Big Red was all about. Did it in a stock Amarok with no problems at all and have pics atop Big Red as my screen saver. I still smile everytime I see them and keen to get back there .
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Reply By: Triggy - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 21:24

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 21:24
Caught up with my mate today that is coming with me on this trip and we have locked in 9th of May to start our crossing. Elders Weather reckons average daytime temp is 26-28 degrees and only 5 days in the month over 30. Will keep an eye on rainfall in the areas just prior to leaving Adelaide to make sure the roads are fine.
By some of your comments, we should still expect a heap of flies until the sun goes down?

Thanks to all for your comments and advice. Glad I asked the question before heading off late March.

Happy and safe travels to you all in 2017.
AnswerID: 608498

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